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Extra Mile Challenge 2019

3 days, over 500 miles and around 28,000 ft of climbing – all for an amazing cause!

This weekend saw KSK Snr Partner Paul Davis and his team “The Big Rock Pedallers” take on the Extra Mile Challenge 2019.

Those that know Paul, know that this generally means him dusting off of the “Manic Street Pedlars” jersey, driving onto the Eurotunnel, and then pedalling madly round parts of Europe as fast as the team can go, to raise money for their favourite charities, and in Pauls case, Willen Hospice.

There were a few changes this year however, to the last Extra Mile excursion to Northern France 2 years ago;

  • firstly, a couple of the regular “Manic Street Pedlars” team members had decided to go on holiday;
  • secondly, Paul’s wife (usually a fellow team member for the Extra Mile Challenge), needed not one, but two hip replacements in the space of 4 months… off went another team member;
  • and finally, of course, there is the small matter of that strange limbo we find ourselves in known as the Brexit process, which meant that our reception in Europe might be interesting.

 “Was somebody trying to tell me something, I wondered, and would I get out of the 500 mile Challenge myself again until next year, when Brexit might be over!”

Never fear, in stepped Paul’s good friend, Mike, who thought it would be good to merge teams. Mike has also been riding the event for 17 years, so without further ado, a select team of experienced cyclists was carefully put together, riding under the banner of “The Big Rock Pedallers”. Everything was going entirely to plan, until one of the team had a mishap and fractured a vertebrae, having fallen off his bike a few weeks ago.

Were they daunted?.. not one bit! Luckily, in stepped another experienced volunteer, and so last Thursday, 19 September, the guys set off, along with 34 other teams for Folksestone and the Eurotunnel ready for day 1 of the challenge!

Friday 20th Sept – Day 1: The teams looped out and back to Metz incorporating some of the most picturesque roads of the Moselle, the vineyards and forests around Trier in Germany and Luxembourg taking in some breathtaking scenery. Crossing borders saw interesting difference in features, feel and architecture. (photo 1)

Saturday 21st Sepember – Day 2: Heading north west, the team followed broadly the French/Belgian border to the city of Valenciennes, crossing over it a few times. The route included the large regional wildlife parks of the Ardennes and L’Avesnois. The second of two days full of steep climbs that kept the thighs burning.. and more amazing scenery too!

Sunday 22nd September – Day 3: Heading north of Valenciennes into the West Flanders region of Belgium, which was flat (other than a mere 4000ft of climbing!) with beautiful roads and villages. The only real issue was a persistent south westerly wind, which took the edge of some speedy cycling. The cyclists finished in the magnificent historical city of Ypres where they had the opportunity to tour some of the famous areas and WW1 sites around the Salient. (photo 2) The weekend ended by attending the “Last Post” ceremony at the Menin Gate before dinner in the stunning historic city centre. (photo 3)

A word from Paul:

The Extra Mile has now been running for 17 years and has raised over £1.5 million for 310 charities, both local and national. This year, 25% of all monies raised will be going to Parkinson’s UK, Macmillan Cancer Research and St John’s Hospice Bedford; 75% of the monies I raise will go to Willen Hospice, to help with the running costs of the hospice which are in excess of £3m per annum.

If you would like to support the charities, and the efforts of the team, perhaps you could make a donation either by contacting me by email or telephone, or simply donating via our Virgin Giving page.

The charities do benefit from Gift Aid Relief, so if you are making the donation personally, and wish to uplift your donation by 25%, please give me a call, if you are making a donation outside the website.

A huge thank you to those that have already sponsored Paul and the team, and thanks in advance to those that plan to do so!

Here’s to the next charity challenge… whatever that may be!

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